Tuesday, 1 June 1999
Dáil Éireann Debate
221. Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands if her attention has been drawn to the proposal from a company (details supplied) to establish an archive at part of the restored south tower and west wing of Kilkenny Castle; if Dúchas will accept a £25,000 local contribution instead of £50,000 in view of the importance of this project and the fact that a substantial local contribution has already been made to the restoration works; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14563/99]
Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera): I am aware of the pro posal to establish an archive at Kilkenny Castle. In 1996 my Department conveyed its agreement to the provision of the archive in the parade wing of the castle, subject to compliance with certain conditions, one of which was a contribution of £50,000. In this regard, I have to inform the Deputy that the amount of the contribution was kept to an artificially low level in the interest of facilitating the promoters and is very much a nominal figure.
I am advised that formal commitment to the conditions laid down by my Department was to be received by 1 January 1997 at the latest and that the contribution of £50,000 was to be received by 1 January 1998 at the latest. These deadlines were not met by the promoters and my Department was lenient in extending the deadlines. However, in May 1998, it had to advise the promoters that the deadline could not be extended indefinitely and that a conclusion had to be reached in the matter given that the scheme for the restoration of the south tower and parade wing of Kilkenny Castle was commencing in June 1998.
The restoration works commenced in June 1998 and are due for completion this autumn. On the basis of the responses received from the promoters, my Department had to conclude that they were not in a position to comply with the conditions, to which they had agreed as far back as 1996.
As the Deputy is aware the substantial contribution made by local authorities and business interests to the current programme of works at Kilkenny Castle relates solely to the provision of a multi functional facility for cultural and other purposes, whereas the archive proposal is a totally separate issue. My Department is, of course, willing to review the matter even at this late stage subject to compliance in full with the criteria discussed and agreed with the promoters at the outset, provided the local authority who have a statutory function as regards archives accede to their request.
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